Running from The Apocalypse

•March 12, 2019 • Leave a Comment

This morning I’m running from The Apocalypse.

Now, on my best day (that’s with six months of consistent training and ten pounds off my body) I’m usually a middling to average age grouper. I may be able to pull off sub-nine miles in ideal (cool, low humidity) conditions. But The Apocalypse rarely comes for you in ideal conditions. This particular morning was no different. An unexceptional fog thickened the air just enough to obscure the streetlights–blurring the shadows–and keep the exhaust fumes and fireplace smoke hanging low–a pungent irritant. Morning sounds took on that peculiar fog-enhanced quality–muffled, yet at the same time enhanced.

All these characteristics coalesced in a keen way–letting my senses get a whiff of just how close The Apocalypse was getting and how fast it was gaining on me. Because The Apocalypse was never quiet and it stank.

That was to be expected of course. The Apocalypse was a big deal. And though it could swiftly sweep across towering mountain ranges, vast oceans and even Michigan Avenue in Dunedin, FL, it was anything but subtle.

That made getting caught by The Apocalypse even more demeaning–more destructive. I could hear it coming and I could not accelerate. I could hear the stab of one foot and the drag of the other–not an efficient stride in the least. But the power and endurance of The Apocalypse made up for that. It simply kept coming–relentless. It didn’t stop for water or Gatorade or a gel–it plowed ahead. It endured. It persevered. It never stopped.

As I passed the fire station the drag of The Apocalypse’s one foot echoed like thunder off the huge garage doors. It was closing in.

I tried to run faster–to make my feet lighter. I sucked in more air–through my mouth. Through my nose. It was thicker now–like a fresh frozen milkshake laboriously drawn through a straw of inadequate diameter. It lingered in my nose hairs–my nasal passages–and saturated my olfactory receptors with the burned diesel fuel stink of The Apocalypse.

Apocalypse Ahead Rusty Sign under CloudsMy shirt was saturated–dampness from the fog mixed with the moist, foul breath of The Apocalypse closing in. I was almost to the stoplight at Pinehurst Road–my turnaround point–and contrary to a typical morning the sky became claustrophobically darker.

I ran hard to the intersection and abruptly pivoted 180 degrees to face The Apocalypse–better to be annihilated facing the darkness. Right? Right. Yet as I completed my pivot and fell back into my normal stride I wasn’t stopped by a wall of chaos, the screeching of evil or the stink of rot–I ran unimpeded. I ran all the way home. I didn’t run any quicker. But I did run with something in my head–the idea for this little story.

JUNK MAIL REDUX: Feel the Rage

•February 4, 2019 • 6 Comments

mail-6Many of you know the adventure we’ve been through over the last three years to reduce/stop the junk mail that had been inundating my 86-year old father. At one point he was receiving up to 100 pieces of mail a day and often was duped into making donations to some very questionable “charities” and other organizations. In addition to having all his mail directed to our home, we made calls, sent emails, mailed letters and sent messages on Facebook to over 800 of these groups to remove him from their mailing lists. While the mail has not completely stopped, we now only receive 1-6 pieces of junk mail for him a day at our home.

The other thing we did (not entirely because of the mail situation, but I won’t lie and say it wasn’t part of the reason) was we moved him to a new home–AND we did not give anyone (including the U.S. Postal Service) a forwarding address.

He has lived there over a year and a half and I’ve not seen but a very occasional piece of junk mail that I’ve had to “intercept” from his pile. Well, yesterday that changed. There were three pieces of mail from some of the most nefarious of junk mail scammers that prey on the elderly and anyone with slight cognitive impairment. I was livid–and I managed to slip them into a bag and remove them from my father’s apartment.

 

I didn’t mention it to my father. His short-term memory isn’t really good enough anymore for me to have an impact–with either this new mail or to remind him of what we went through to stop what he was being buried under in the not-too-distant past. I just had to RAGE in my own mind at the people who use this type of “marketing” and then share that with my wife (who made the majority of the aforementioned phone calls).

Today I called two of those organizations to have his new address removed from their databases. I was lucky in that these were two that actually had phone numbers that were available with a quick internet search. Of course, I got a recording and had to leave a message, but at least there was a number to call. I can only hope they honor my request and stop pestering my father.

 

 

Again, if you have elderly parents or grandparents–even if they don’t have the slightest of cognitive impairments–get a good look at their mail whenever you can. Monitor it regularly and look for the junk that looks inflammatory, persuasive, preys on their fears (especially about Social Security and Medicare) or has an “official look” (made to look like an invoice or an official government document).

I cannot express how angry these people make me. I cannot express how exasperated I am with the Direct Mail Industry. They need to do a much better job policing their own. If not, the U.S. Postal Service or state’s attorney generals or the attorney general of the United States need to do more to protect it’s elderly citizens. I wish there was a way to fund and build a wall that would stop this crap from getting to our seniors–because right now I feel like I’m trying to hold off the invasion of Normandy with a slingshot.

Review: BookLife/Publishers Weekly

•January 25, 2019 • Leave a Comment

NEW FRONT COVER AUGUST 2018 WITH SILVER MEDAL“In Koelsch’s imaginative, plausible suspense novel, scientists around the world are baffled when hundreds of dolphins beach themselves in Texas, Virginia, and Mozambique, numbers far greater than ever previously observed.”

“Fans of the film The Day of the Dolphin will enjoy this unusual and intelligent thriller.”

CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL REVIEW (with spoilers)

THE PERFECT GIFTS FOR AUTHORS?

•December 18, 2018 • Leave a Comment

LFL 1I can’t speak for every author, but as a relatively new fiction author there are only a few things that I’d really love to receive as gifts this holiday season.

  1. Book Reviews: if you have read and enjoyed my first novel Wendall’s Lullaby, please take a moment to go to Amazon or Goodreads and leave even a brief review.
  2. Book Sales: buy a paperback or an ebook for yourself or as a gift for someone who likes to read.
  3. Social Media Shares/Likes: if you see a post for my book on Facebook or Twitter, please share it if you can. If don’t want to share the post, please “like’ it. This is a huge help in reaching new potential audiences.
  4. Library Donations: make a donation to your local library or take a moment to donate old books to your local library or Little Free Library. Check out that Little Free Library concept too. If you really like it, think about “gifting” a Little Free Library to your neighborhood or local park.
  5. Beer.
  6. A Part-time job that allows me time to write, attend book events and produce my trail running and fun triathlon events.
  7. Book Reviews: oops, I mentioned these already.
  8. Books: I love to read fiction and non-fiction and books always make great gifts!

 

Of course, the greatest gift anyone can have is family and friends and I’m grateful for everyone in my life–especially my wonderful wife (and editor), Jules.

Now, Happy Reading! And Happy Holidays!

I Cried…

•November 25, 2018 • Leave a Comment

starkey 2I cried in the woods today.

It would have been easy

to blame

the droplets sliding down my cheeks

on my eyelashes

overburdened

and saturated with dew

from the heavy morning fog.

But that would have been

a half-truth.

Mixed with that moisture

was the salt of my fears.

It would have been easy

to blame

the droplets sliding down my cheeks

on the sting

of hanging smoke

from early morning campfires.

But that would be

a half-truth.

Mixed with that sting

was the salt of my burdens.

It would have been easy

to blame

the droplets sliding down my cheeks

on a grain or two

of sand.

But that would be

a half-truth.

Mixed with that irritant

was the salt of my shortcomings.

It would have been easy

to blame

the droplets sliding down my cheeks

on any

of these things.

But that would be

a half-truth.

I simply cried in the woods today.

starkey woods on fire sunrise

* I don’t write much poetry anymore. But for some reason I was moved to put most of this down while in the woods running and biking at Starkey Wilderness Park this morning. Luckily I was out there working on a course for an event I produce, so I had pen and paper with me for jotting down notes on distance and trails.

I completed the poem here at home.

 

 

Not So Amazing: KRESKIN JUNK MAIL

•November 12, 2018 • Leave a Comment

kreskin 1_LI (2)kreskin envelop deceptionThis is more of a quick RANT than a reasoned blog post as I deal with another scammer trying to dupe my father from his mailbox. Yes, The Amazing Kreskin managed to find him at his new address and send him his deceptive, elder-baiting junk mail.

It’s just unconscionable what the elderly have to endure every time they go to their mailbox. And The Amazing Kreskin is just one exploiting his “celebrity” (especially with the senior crowd) to take advantage of those living on fixed incomes and still dream of greener pastures.

kreskin return envelopeLike so many of these scam mailings there is no contact information in their materials–just a return envelope for your check or credit card number. And, lucky for me, I managed to intercept this crap before that return envelope was used by my father.

I did find an email address on the Kreskin webpage. First, I asked them if this junk was really coming from their organization. If it was, I requested my father be removed from any of their mailing and phone lists. If it’s not coming from them (hahaha–not likely) I suggested they find out who was mailing it and sue them for fraud.

I’m still waiting for their response. If I hear nothing or if they admit to this heinous act, I’ll be sure to publish their email address so that you can deluge them with complaints about their deceptive mail campaigns. This type of abuse–against the elderly or anyone–needs to stop.

Thank you for listening to me rage.

VETERANS DAY: Remember the History, Remember the Hope

•November 11, 2018 • Leave a Comment

commemoration of the centenary of the great war, USASometimes when I’m working on my fiction writing it’s so easy to become absorbed in the world you’ve created or, in the case of my current project, the history of the time period in which you are writing, that current events actually seem more distant.

My newer work-in-progress deals with the last year of World War I and the year or so following the end of that conflict. So, I’ve been absorbed in books, online articles and documentaries about the war–exploring everything from it’s causes and impacts on the world to innovative killing technologies and their severe impact on the men and women involved.

going over the top trenchesWhile most wars tend to generate evolutions in defensive designs and offensive weapons technology, the historical timing and global nature of this war saw the rapid production and development of weapons on an industrial scale. Unfortunately, it took some time (if ever) for the tacticians to adjust to the killing power of the new technologies and casualties in single battles were often of a number rarely seen across entire wars.

Chemical agents were used for the first time. Bombardments often used tens of thousands–and sometimes hundreds of thousands–of shells. “Shellshock”–what we now refer to as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)–was more pervasive and debilitating than in any previous conflict.

Because of the enormity of the loss–the enormity of the suffering–it was commonly dubbed ‘The Great War” or “The War to End All Wars.” With the end of the war, some world leaders saw an opportunity–a chance to create an international body to support alternate, non-violent means of conflict resolution and to punish nations that did not abide by the new normal. The lofty dream of the League of Nations fell apart almost immediately and was but a distant memory by the eve of a much larger conflict just twenty years later.

armistice-daySo, while doing my book research I was struck by how relevant this may be for today–especially since the date for Veteran’s Day in the United States is what many in Europe and the UK refer to (and what our holiday was originally called) as Armistice Day. Our American holiday is typically clarified as a celebration of living veterans–with Memorial Day being the holiday with which we honor those who gave their lives for our country. Yet still, I could not shake the historical link to Armistice Day, the men and women sacrificed and that brief dream of hope.

What an honor it would be for veterans–living and dead–for the world to renew that hope with a vigor befitting their sacrifices–to choose peace, negotiation, consensus and compromise as the preferred solutions to international conflict. What an honor to the millions–the lost generation–that gave their lives if we could truly remember the “War to End All Wars” as the historical genesis of something current, something positive and something larger.

 

 
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